Just started English, any advice? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 04-06-2013, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 64
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Just started English, any advice?

Hi all! A few weeks ago I purchased my first English tack set and switched over to English with my 5yr old mare.

Here's the thread:
Is my horse collecting? *Videos*
that explains our story and what I wanted to do with her, etc.

Anyways, our first few rides went alright - my boots or square saddle pad hadn't come yet so I was sort of just messing around with English, trying to get the feel for the saddle and whatnot.
I have to admit, my balance was pretty bad at first. I could hardly trot without slipping all over - much less post or canter!

Earlier this week my Ariat half chaps & boots, saddle pad, and polos came in the mail so I got my first taste of riding English 'properly.'

I know I can't expect.. too much? at first with my mare, since she's new to English as well, but sometimes I find it hard to get both impulsion (or probably what I think of as speed) and collection at the same time. Roxy had a wonderful slow jog that she learned for western, and she was finally starting to use her back (see link above).

But that's much too slow to get a post off of - but when I ask her to speed up, she pulls her head up again and I can post, but I feel like she gets stiff. Then when I ask her to collect and use her hind end she slows down again.

I know it'll take time, but does anyone have any advice? How can I get her to collect and use her back while still keeping the forward movement?

I think we have improved a bit from our first ride - please, feel free to give me any advice or if you notice something I should change. Keep in mind that it was one of our first rides ;)
I am going to be taking lessons once a week or so starting Monday (4/8) so
I'll be able to ask for her advice too

This is from our very first ride, in February:

And then this morning:

Roxy [English] - YouTube

And I also tried trotting poles to get her to extend, she loves them!

Andd one of our portraits, just for fun ;)

Thanks in advance!
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Last edited by kelseyxroxy; 04-06-2013 at 11:39 PM.
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post #2 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
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Hey there! I don't think I'm qualified to give much advice, but one of my favorite quotes from this board: "speed is the enemy of impulsion." It really helped clarify in my mind the difference between getting a bigger stride/movement/speed and more power in a collected movement.

I also wanted to ask, any particular reason for the jumping saddle? If your interests are in collection and extension rather than jumps, it seems that the saddle isn't helping your position and a dressage saddle might suit you better!

My amateur advice:
(1) It seems as if your saddle is sitting too far forward-- always remember to feel for the back of the scapula (shoulder) and set the bars of the saddle there!
(2) Remember with your hands, thumbs up as if you're holding a mug of your favorite drink and (again, user advice form this forum who I am referencing!) think about 'laser" pointing your thumbs straight in the direction of the bit.
(3) When you're riding, make sure not to pinch with your knees. Rather, think about wrapping your calves around the barrel of your horse and pointing your toes inward (in reality they'll just be pointing straight ahead). That contact/wrapping with your calves is what blocks you from moving around in the saddle. This will also help you get your heel under yourself!

Looove the way your horse takes on those poles! Beautiful!

I hope I've been helpful. :)
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post #3 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
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Oh! And as for asking for that bigger trot without your horse tossing her head up and falling apart... have you every done exercises where you ask her to stretch downward (whether it's into contact or not)? It's hard to explain--hopefully someone can do a better job than me!--but learning to ride "long and low" was very important to taking up contact and learning to work on collection with me. I would ask your new trainer about it!
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post #4 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 06:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Latvia
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I must agree, that the saddle is a little bit too much forwards, and also, why jumping saddle? there are also universal saddles, that are better for overall work - can jump and can do a little dressage too, more stirrup length variety.
for this saddle your stirrups are too long, you are sitting too far back, and need to bring your leg back - your seat is kinda off for english, your heel, tailbone and the base of your head should line up in a straight line. preferably perpendicular to the ground.
It is good that you can ride with long loose reigns but for doing different elements usually contact is required. Hands were kinda explained by existentialpony - also remember to loosen shoulders and elbows and then there should form a straight line from your elbow through your hand, through the reigns to the bit.

And take your feet a little bit more out the stirrups, they are too deep - do not rely on stirrups to stay in saddle or to do raising trot - there are a lot of other muscles to do that.

I hope I havent put you off or anything, but there are things that are quite different in english than in western ( i doubt I could ever ride western)
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post #5 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Thanks much for the advice! :)

As for the saddle, I wasn't really sure if it was jumping or just a little more forward, but I was worried about the fact that my knee didn't really line up and I had a chair position.
However, since I had just started english, I was happy to find any saddle and we got a pretty good deal for this one and a bunch of other tack. I can't really afford a new saddle atm, until I sell a few of my old western ones. :/

I do have another one, but the seat might be a touch small (it's a 17'')

Do you think I definitely need to find a new saddle right now? I would like to jump in the future but if this saddle is teaches me bad habits and messing with my seat, than I can try to find another (any recommendations?) but we're kind of limited on resource over here, most people are western.

Thanks again!
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post #6 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 10:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Latvia
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The lower saddle looks better for all round work than the upper one.
I have 2 myself - a dressage one and the all rounder - unless jumping high class competitions can use that one, as your knee can have more positions on the saddle. for the jumping saddle - really needs to be in the right place and that means quite short stirrups
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post #7 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 12:14 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Middle of Nowhere, Saskatchewan
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I am also a western rider trying to go English.
You are doing really good!
The major thing I noticed is a chair seat. Your leg needs to come back a few inches.
Being in a similar boat as you (although I've only rode English a handful of times this year) doing some work in the 2-point really brought my leg back to where it needed to be.
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post #8 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Tucson, AZ
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Ebay is a wonderful thing. You can find a decent all-purpose or dressage saddle for <$200, most of the time!
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post #9 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Alrighty, so I decided to try the older saddle today and see if my position improved at all!

Here are all the pictures, I'll put a few below too.
Horseforum Critique Photos by Kerxy | Photobucket

This is the only local saddle I've been able to find. We paid a total of $50 for the saddle, a pad, two girths, and a breast collar. It's older, but still functionable.

I did a little two-point/standing in the stirrups to try to help my leg as well.

Also tried different stirrup lengths.. the one in most of these pics felt the most comfortable and aligned my knee.

It's a 17'' - I'm pretty sure I need a 17.5'' (I ride in a 15.5 western) and that's what the other english saddle is.
Do you think it's terribly small? Or would it be alright for schooling and whatnot? As long as it doesn't throw my position completely off.
Maybe I should use it as motivation to lose weight xD

Again, thanks in advance!

(Also, sorry for the quality of the pics - they're all video stills and had to be resized.)

I know, need to look up :p

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post #10 of 21 Old 04-07-2013, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Also, here's a shot with the stirrups a hole longer!

I can post videos if needed.
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